Markus Kayser Builds a Solar-Powered 3D Printer that Prints Glass from Sand and a Sun-Powered Cutter
Industrial designer and tinkerer Markus Kayser spent the better part of a year building and experimenting with two fantastic devices that harness the sun’s power in some of the world’s harshest climates. The first he calls a Sun Cutter, a low-tech light cutter that uses a large ball lens to focus the sun’s rays onto a surface that’s moved by a cam-guided system. As the surface moves under the magnified light it cuts 2D components like a laser. The project was tested for the first time in August 2010 in the Egyptian desert and Kayser used thin plywood to create the parts for a few pairs of pretty sweet shades. But he didn’t stop there.
Next, Kayser began to examine the process of 3D printing. Merging two of the deserts most abundant resources, nearly unlimited quantities of sand and sun, he created the Solar Sinter, a device that melts sand to create 3D objects out of glass. Via his web site:
This process of converting a powdery substance via a heating process into a solid form is known as sintering and has in recent years become a central process in design prototyping known as 3D printing or SLS (selective laser sintering). […] By using the sun’s rays instead of a laser and sand instead of resins, I had the basis of an entirely new solar-powered machine and production process for making glass objects that taps into the abundant supplies of sun and sand to be found in the deserts of the world.
In mid-May the Solar Sinter was tested for a two week period in the deserts of Siwa, Egypt, resulting in the amazing footage above. It’s incredible to think that the solar energy generated for both machines is used only to power electronics, servos and the mechanism that tracks the sun, while the power used to cut wood and melt sand is just raw, concentrated sunlight. While I fully understand the mechanics and science at work in Kayser’s devices, there’s something about them that just seems magical. Definitely head over to his website to explore more photos and info. (via stellar, sorry can’t link the post for some reason)